UF MEN'S BASKETBALL
Freshman Beal feeling comfortable
Published: Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 18, 2011 at 11:40 p.m.
It was a basket that has typified Florida freshman guard Bradley Beal's season.
Who: Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils (1-8) at No. 13 Florida Gators (8-2)
When: 7 p.m.
TV/ Radio: FSN/103.7 FM
Splitting a pair of defenders, the 6-foot-3 Beal deflty moved into the lane and lofted a soft 10-foot floater that swished through the net. He took body shots from two more Texas A&M players as he fell to the paint. No foul was called. None was needed because Beal finished.
For a few anxious moments, Beal remained on the floor in pain. But he got back up and continued, finishing with 16 points in Florida's 84-64 win over the Aggies.
The shooting has yet to come, but Beal has managed to score points the tough way early in his UF career. He'll look to continue his strong drives to the basket tonight when the No. 13 Gators return home to face Mississippi Valley State.
“I'm not as nervous as I was,” Beal said. “Basically, it's starting to come natural and I'm playing within the flow of the game, not really forcing anything. Just relaxing and enjoying the flow of the game.”
Beal ranks ninth in the Southeastern Conference in scoring (15.2 ppg) and 16th in rebounding (6.2 rpg). He's already posted two double-doubles and earned SEC freshman of the week honors twice this season.
And yet, there is a feeling that Beal can do even more because he's shooting just 31 percent (18-58) from 3-point range. Beal was a more accurate long-range shooter in high school.
“He's understanding the speed of the game,” Florida coach Billy Donovan said. “I think the speed of the game was something that was a little bit surprising to him where you think you are open and you have time to shoot the ball and those gaps close pretty quickly. The length of people running at you in relationship to what was running at him in high school, those are things I think he has to go through to keep getting better.”
Beal acknowledged he needs to work on speeding up the release of his shot.
“You just have to focus on jumping quicker and releasing it quicker,” Beal said. “The form doesn't change or anything like that. Coach Donovan said most of my shots I miss is because of my legs so really I'm just starting to play lower to the ground, really getting my legs more involved in the game.”
Beal has managed to stay on the court because he's doing everything else well. Donovan said that Beal has a basketball IQ as high as any freshman he's coached.
“He's always put himself in a position to improve because I think he views things the right way and he has a pretty clear understanding where he has to get better,” Donovan said.
Beal said he doesn't want to use the freshman label as an excuse (“I'm a basketball player,” he said.), but Donovan said he expects a few more growing pains along with way. Donovan is confident that Beal will handle them well because of his maturity.
“There are going to be ups and downs for him because he's a freshman,” Donovan said. “Every game is not going to be perfect and ideal. But the one thing about him is he's learned, he's grown and he's gotten better.”
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